The Big O en route to two tens at the 2015 Cloudbreak contest. “Owen hit that place in Fiji to a degree not ever seen. And what I loved about it is that he seemed as surprised and baffled by it as everybody else," said Matt Warshaw. | Photo: WSL

Fijian government shocks surf world after plan to review public access to world-class wave Cloudbreak!

The Fijian Cabinet is set to review—and possibly end— 2010's Surfing Decree, a law which gave public access to Cloudbreak and Restaurants.

Fiji is paradise, yes? Floating sense drunk all day in the perfection of Tavarua or Namotu, it’s the goofy-footer’s Eden.

For the traveler it’s as fantastic as it is fleeting, like paint in a paper bag. And there’s always the itch to come back by hell or high water. But the means might narrow if some in the Fijian government have their way.

Next week, the Fijian Cabinet is set to review—and possibly end— the 2010 Surfing Decree, a law which gave public access to private spots such as Cloudbreak and Restaurants. Prior to 2010, if ya’ wanted to scratch your itch, you’d have to stay at privately-owned Tavarua.

You wanna surf Cloudbreak? You come through us.

Fijian politics is storied. There’s a history of conflicts on the pacific island chain with two universal hungers to blame: greed and ethnic tensions. In-fighting between the indigenous Fijians, or iTaukei, and Indo-Fijians, those brought over by colonial

England in the late nineteenth century to work the cane plantations. When the British coughed up its imperial rule in 1970, animosity between the two groups festered as property rights and usage issues proved too difficult to solve amicably. As a result came finger pointing, name calling, hair pulling, and a couple a coups.

In 2006, military boss Frank Bainimarama seized power from the elected government in a bloodless take-over motivated by these ethnic tensions and general corruption. In an attempt to boost the flow of foreign dollars into the hands of both groups, Bainimarama spearheaded the 2010 Surfers Decree by giving a shot to the surf-tourism industry, ending exclusivity rights to the few, thereby allowing any charter boat within a wave’s range to bring as many surfers as possible into the water. Cloudbreak and Restaurants, and similar waves were no longer private oases.

Power to the people! The many, oh, so many people.

Surf-tourism is bigger than ever on the Fijian Islands. Because the wave-front resorts no longer control access to the famous waves, stay anywhere you can find, rent a square on a boat, and chance the time of your stupid life. And you can do it cheaper than staying at one of the premiere hotels so guys and dolls like you and me can sport the bill without selling our children. It also spreads bucks into the hands of more native Fijians, indigenous and Indo.

On the negative, this open-door policy (no political discussions in the comments, please) has led to dangerous overcrowding.

Like Wade Carmichael in boardshorts.

Maybe more revealing is the perceived disrespect of the hoteliers shown to indigenous groups. Before the 2010 Decree, hotels were required to pay 5% earnings tribute to the Fijians. This was dropped in the Decree. Guess how much is reported to be given back now? Surprise! You guessed it.

So, who knows where the Cabinet’s review will lead. Maybe we’ll be forced to tunnel through a select few hotels again. Either way, bet that we’ll all be paying out the nose. (Of course, there are heaps of other breaks less advertised to check out.)

Writer and money bags William Finnegan, who surfed the islands decades before many, shared his waffling. “I really did think it [closed access] was kind of politically indefensible,” Billy said. “But I wanted to surf it so much that I eventually went back there as a paying guest and surfed there for a number of years—as an embarrassed but happy paying guest.”

Whether the cost is a half-a-year rent payment or a forgettable card swipe for ya’, those waves furnish a lifetime of daydreams.

What about you?

Would you rather spend big money for a crowd-controlled wave like Cloudbreak or save some cash and wade around in the overcrowded sea of foam?

Kelly Slater Wave Co. sales person (insert) sad.
Kelly Slater Wave Co. sales person (insert) sad.

“Surf-anchored development” begins to trend as two new wave tank communities in Dallas and Nashville announced

We live in the future.

Did you every dream that you would live to see the day when whole inland communities would be built around surfing? Single-family homes, cut-de-sacs, two-car garages and mechanical lefts and rights? But here we are and it’s true. The future. Every day, it seems, another project is announced and now the lexicon is catching up, dubbing them “surf-anchored developments.”

One builder is so excited that it has snatched up exclusive rights to nine markets including Dallas and Nashville. Let’s read about it together.

Aventuur revealed Tuesday that it has plans to roll out Wavegarden’s Cove offering across the United States and Baja California Sur within mixed-use surf, leisure and wellbeing destinations.

Those destinations would be anchored by 5.5-acre surfing lagoons within broader mixed-use developments expected to consist of hospitality, retail and residential components. Amenities could incorporate cafes, restaurants, beach clubs, fitness and well studios, and creative offices, among other neighborhood services.

Each spot requires about $50 million to $100 million in development capital, the company said, and it has already raised $12 million from high net-worth individuals, family offices, and private investment firms to aid in its North American rollout.

I’ve wondered before, here, how sad the Kelly Slater Wave Co. sales team must be on most days. Everyone one of these surf-anchored developments is anchored by a Wavegarden or an American Wave Machine or a Rusty Plunger. Not one, yet, anchored by a Big Blue Sled.

Do you think they have weekly pep talks, gentle in tone, or does “the boss” get on the horn and really lay into them?

Aventuur, in any case, and according to its website, “was founded to provide transformational experiences that enhance wellbeing. Our vision is to curate a global network of deeply connected communities, bound by a love of surfing.”

Ace Buchan is the director of surf and sustainability.

Who knew?

Thomas with wife Lakey on his shoulders, cheeky comment by missus on WSL post and the victorious leaderboard.

Husband of world #7 Lakey Peterson wins WSL Fantasy Surf League as fans demand, “What’s the prize?”

“Hahaha wow, go babe,” wrote wife Lakey, “@wsl what does he win? hahaha.” 

Earlier today in a post narrated by Bailey Ladders jester Kaipo Guerrero, the Australian husband of Lakey Peterson, Thomas Allen, was announced winner of the WSL’s Fantasy League.

Allen, who is thirty-three, won the year-long contest out of an astonishing 115,000 competitors, though the number of active participants in unknown. 

The lightly commented post was marked by readers asking what prize Allen might receive for the remarkable feat. 

“What does he win?” asked The Green Room Times. 

“Hahaha wow, go babe,” wrote wife Lakey, “@wsl what does he win? hahaha.” 

The lack of a prize is a sore point.

Four years ago, the staggering lack of any prizes was brought into the spotlight when Berlin-based Australian surfer Shane Starling aka Zmonde, picked ten of the eleven event winners, although his victory came and went unacknowledged by the owners of the game. 

(BeachGrit remedied that situation a little with a despatch of t-shirts and air fresheners.)

When I ask Allen about the prize he said he’d heard that someone, some year, won a trip to Indonesia although “I might have to buy myself a trophy”.

Allen is a little better placed than most to participate in the game. He films his wife freesurfing around the events and gets to see who the in-form surfers are. 

Like in Brazil where eventual winner Yago Dora was “landing everything. He couldn’t make a wrong decision. He was surfing better than anyone in the free surfs. If you weren’t there it was impossible to know how in-form he was.

One thing he noticed this season was “John John hasn’t been the stand-out he normally is”. 

Allen waits til the morning of the event to choose his team and picks horses for courses. Small waves, the small-wave guys (Filipe), if it’s bigger, “the guys who are better on rail.”

As for Finals Day, the missus thinks Carissa Moore is going to come in hot and angry and win it, although Allen is leaning towards super kid Caity Simmers, who grew up down the road at Oceanside.

“Caity throws her tail, gets her tail loose so easily and the judges are scoring all that progressive stuff on the women’s side this year.”

Either her or Molly Picklum.

“They’ve got air reverses on dial. Throw those and the judges will wait it up all day long.” 


Well, yeah, real hard to go past Filipe if it’s small, he says, but a little bigger and Griffin and Ethan come into the mix. 

“You can never count Ethan out,” says Allen, “at the wave pool he proved everyone wrong.” 

On V-Day, Allen says he’s been “cruising and soaking up the victory” although a repeat of the feat is unlikely. 

“Maybe I’ll retire. It’s a one and done deal. I’ll depart while I’m sitting on top of the mountain.” 

Beth in The Rime of the Ancient Virgin and, inset, Chris Malloy.

Ultra-masculine surf great Chris Malloy slams Cocaine Bear’s Elizabeth Banks for historical crime, “This broad is always drunk and wrong”

“Snarky dark hearted desperation in every joke attempt.” 

If it rains, it pours or so the expression goes. 

Just a few months after the reappearance of ultra-masculine surf great Chris Malloy on our feeds following many years in the wilderness, when he went after a daddy who was transitioning his toddler from boy through to gal, let’s just say Chris ain’t one for gender fluidity, the fifty year old is back with a new target, Cocaine Bear director and actor Elizabeth Banks. 

In 2017, Banks gave hell to Stevie Spielberg in a speech at Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards claiming he’d never had a female lead in all of his seventy or whatever films. 

Banks’ speech got short shrift from the audience with one guest yelling out, “The Color Purple”, a Spielberg film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Elo’s old pal Oprah Winfrey. 

Chris, as you know, is a former pro surfer, a climber of dangerous mountains and who makes fine documentaries and television commercials. He chews tobacco and had a childhood fantasy to become a saddle bronc rider until he saw a guy get gored in the groin and then bleed out. He ain’t exactly a slavish follower of progressive trends.

So when the speech resurfaced on Instagram yesterday, he dived head in.


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A post shared by History of Cinema (@historyofcinema)

“This broad is always drunk and wrong,” wrote the fifty year old Central Californias. “Snarky dark hearted desperation in every joke attempt.” 

It’s a damning summation of the storied actor and director whom you may have fallen in love with following her role as Beth, “the sexually uninhibited bookstore clerk” in the 40-Year-Old Virgin, and admired for her directorial take on a bear hopped up on seventy-five pounds of lost cocaine. 

Chris Malloy, meanwhile, is a man of honour who left Hurley years back for Patagonia despite having to take a fifty percent payout. 

“How did I bring up the slack? For a while when I first got married and moved back to my home town I got my commercial fishing licence and also worked on a pack string hauling gear into the back country on horseback. I’d come home after two days smelling like horses or fish and always like beer and with 200 bucks to show for it.”

What a man, yes?

Toledo (pictured) repping. Photo: WSL
Toledo (pictured) repping. Photo: WSL

Pressure grows on Filipe Toledo to vacate Olympic slot after shock admission that he’s afraid to surf Teahupo’o

"Pull in or pull out."

How do you solve a problem like Filipe? Yesterday’s not surprising though shocking admission by the current, and likely future, world surfing champion Filipe Toledo’s father that the very talented Brazilian is, in fact, scared of Teahupo’o was certainly… something. We have watched the still-young man fail to paddle for waves for years now, historic 0.00 heat totals, getting smoked by two fifty year-olds, gifting heat wins to competitors just so he can get out of the water though he has always denied fear.

Denied it, that is, until his much-loved father Ricardo opened up and declared:

The truth is that he is afraid of hitting the coral bottom. That is the fear he has, of hitting himself there and really hurting himself and suffering an irreversible injury. It’s something that stays in his head… He’s already surfed big Waimea and Pipeline. He doesn’t have the know-how like John John has, like Medina has or as Italo acquired over the years. It is something that we know but at no time does it detract from the quality of the athlete that he is.

Why let the scaredy-cat out of the bag now, though? Why dig up a fact that has been meticulously buried?

Next year’s Olympics will be contested at “The Place of Broken Skulls” or “Tear-hoo-poh-oh” and Toledo has already secured his spot on the Brazilian team. There he will be, standing shoulder to shoulder with Gabriel Medina or Italo Ferreira or Yago Dora quaking knees wrapped in gold and green.

Admitting that hitting the coral bottom “stays in his head?”

Unfortunately it does completely detract from the quality of the athlete that he is.

His terror is completely obvious, and reasonable for any mere mortal, but not for Ubatuba’s first son. Toledo has super human reflexes and ability. God-gifted talent above and beyond plus resources to hone and maximize. He could swing on any gaping beast and, though sheer capability, navigate. That he has refused to grow the heart, to this point, to spend time and money, gin up confidence, learn is a mark directly against him.

And, so, if he continues to refuse to try this year, with truth of trepidation out in the open, shouldn’t he claim gut injury and vacate his Olympic spot to either Gabriel Medina or Italo Ferreira or Yago Dora?

If he doesn’t, will it be a historically selfish act?

Placing self directly above country?

Tell me how I’m wrong.

David Lee Scales and I, anyhow, briefly discussed Toledo’s cowardice on today’s program alongside solving the blight of racism. Worth a listen and the episode will soon be enshrined in the Smithsonian.